Election 2020: Steyer’s Strong Stance on Race, Economy, and Climate Define New Hampshire Debate

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Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer took the debate stage in Manchester, NH to make the case that he is the best candidate to build a broad and diverse coalition of Americans to beat Trump in November.

Steyer also called for reparations, challenged Biden to disavow racist comments, and showed he is the only candidate with enough experience to beat Trump on the economy.

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Steyer began the night emphasizing the need for a diverse, national coalition to beat Trump, highlighting his 24% support from African American voters in South Carolina. "That's what it's going to take," Steyer said. "Turnout, but turnout across the spectrum of Democratic voters. Somebody that can pull… everyone together in every way we're divided."

On stage, Steyer said that the 2020 presidential election will come down to the economy. Steyer stated, "We're going to have to take Mr. Trump down on the economy. If you listen to him, he's crowing about it every single day… You have to have experience to take him down... You need to go toe-to-toe with this guy and take him down on the debate stage or we're going to lose."

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When discussing foreign policy, Steyer brought in his number one priority –– climate –– to explain how he will lead as commander in chief. Steyer said, "This view of the world that our response should be military is driven by our gigantic military complex and ignores the biggest problem we face in the world, which is climate change. It cannot be solved with guns and tanks and planes. They can only be solved with diplomacy and allies and interaction with other countries."

Steyer made race a prominent part of the night's discussion, noting that he is the only candidate calling for reparations and creating a formal commission on race. "I would set up a formal commission on race day one to retell the story of the last 400 years of America about systemic racism against African-Americans," Steyer said. "Not just legal discrimination, injustice and cruelty, but also the contribution that the African-American community made to America, in building it and leading the entire country from a moral standpoint… We need to repair damage that's been done officially and pretending we're all the same is not accurate."

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Steyer also called on Vice President Biden to disavow racist comments about Jerry Govan, a consultant for the Steyer campaign, made by Dick Harpootlian, a Biden surrogate in South Carolina. In response, Biden refused to disavow Harpootlian and said Harpootlian is "sorry" for what he said. Harpootlian has a history of disparaging comments about African Americans, once commenting that "I don't want to buy the black vote. I just want to rent it for a day."

The night concluded with Steyer's vision for a better America. "[Trump] doesn't understand that investing in education, health care, and good union jobs is actually an investment in our common humanity and growth in the future, mobility and justice. That is the America that lives in our hearts and minds that will beat Mr. Trump, because he will never be able to imagine it. So, in fact, what we need to do is have a new conception, a new dream of America. Dream it and make it happen. Imagine the mountain and then we climb it together."

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About Tom:
Tom Steyer left his successful investing business seven years ago to give his own money and all his time and energy to fighting for progressive causes. He soon became one of the country's leading forces in registering more young voters and voters of color, fighting climate change, working for racial justice, and helping secure better lives for all Americans. Tom has led a number of people-first, grassroots campaigns that have repeatedly defeated powerful special interests, beating big oil to win clean air laws, forcing big tobacco to pay its share of healthcare costs, and closing a billion-dollar corporate tax loophole to fund public schools.  

Tom and his wife Kat Taylor were early signers of the Giving Pledge, a commitment to give the bulk of their fortune to good causes before they die. Tom's dedication to doing what is right comes from his parents. His father was a lawyer who prosecuted Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials; his mother was a journalist and teacher who volunteered to teach prisoners in New York City jails. Tom says his parents showed him the power of having the courage to do the right thing. Their greatest lesson, he says, was that our actions speak louder than our words – what we do is more important than what we say.

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